One of the attractions of the Arctic countries is the magical display of northern lights, Iceland is no exception. While Iceland is breathtakingly beautiful on its own, most people count the northern lights as the highlight of their time there.
These are not periodic phenomena however, and so there’s certainly an element of luck involved in being able to spot the lights. But with meticulous planning and research, you can improve your chances manifold. Here’s how–
Time your visit right
Iceland is a country of the midnight sun but for the northern lights to be visible you need a dark and cloud-free sky. This rules out the summer months from April to July.
Most people will say your best chance is from November to February but be warned that the weather can be treacherously bad in Iceland around this time and highly unpredictable.
Take heart in the fact that the northern lights Iceland have been spotted as early as September in vivid clarity when the weather is still not so uncomfortable. So broadly speaking, between September to March is the time to visit.
Prolong your visit
Like we’ve already mentioned, the lights are natural phenomena that cannot be accurately predicted. If you’re planning to be in the country for only a long weekend say, you might be in for some disappointment.
To maximize your chances, you need to plan a trip that’s at least a week long.
Book a hotel outside Reykjavik
While Reykjavik is nobody’s idea of the beacon of light pollution, and it is quite possible to spot the lights there also, but the full majestic display can only be appreciated when it is as dark as can be.
Gullfoss is a popular choice for travelers to establish their base when out spotting the lights.
Do meticulous research
This isn’t as tedious as it sounds. The official weather forecasting website of Iceland updates easy to read information on this every day. You can check the updates here.
On the map, the green area signifies cloud cover and the white area denotes clear skies. On the right-hand corner, you will find a scale numbered from 0 to 9 which gives you the probability of spotting the lights that day. The scale is a combination of whether the lights will appear and if yes then how active will they be.
Don’t be disheartened if the prediction during your stay is consistently low. This is only a forecast and not an accurate prediction!
Take a guided tour of northern lights Iceland
While going on an adventure chasing the lights on your own sounds like the most fun activity imaginable, it can be time-consuming and frustrating. Most guided tours employ professionals who are attuned and experienced in spotting the lights and can guarantee you a higher chance of success.
Once you reach Iceland, you will find infinite brochures in your hotel advertising northern lights tour. But if you want to have your entire vacation be a part of a relaxed, guided tour then GAdventures has an excellent 5 days tour called Northern Lights and Golden Circle Iceland.
If you’re only interested in chasing the lights the entire week, then Intrepid Travel has a more focused tour on Northern Lights Iceland. It has received excellent reviews on its website.
It’s sure to be a memorable time!
While it might seem that chasing and spotting the lights is too much work, believe us, when you see the dancing lights in the sky in their full neon glory, it definitely feels worth the wait!
And it’s guaranteed to make your vacation one of the most memorable of your life. Good luck on your trip!